Sunday, March 12, 2017

Bonding over emesis: Another surgery in the books!

Well surgery #8 has come and gone, and compared to previous experiences,  I will chalk it up to a success.

After undergoing 7 previous knee surgeries, I went into 8 like a professional patient (or terrorist), negotiating my demands with the surgical staff as soon as I entered the surgery centre in Philadelphia.

"Ok, listen. We can do the Percocet but no Fentanyl this time. Last time I suffered convulsions and we do not want that happening again."

"Fine. I will take the general anesthetic, but you need to use the mouthpiece instead of the oxygen mask. You know I get claustrophobic under there."

"Where's my Versed? Did someone forget my Versed? You guys know that I get anxiety and need that Versed."

Ok. I wasn't actually that demanding - I definitely made requests politely as any nice Canadian would - but I did go in with my list of "optimal surgery strategies." Oh my god. They must hate the Type A controlling patient from the Cayman Islands! 

I exited the surgery centre the very afternoon after my surgery, feeling pretty badass and ready to conquer the famous Philly "Rocky" steps. My pain was minimal and I was on an anesthetic high. 

About 24 hours later, nausea rocked my world, and continued to rock my world for 3 days. Let's call it the "post surgery beach body diet." Aside: I have so much sympathy for people who suffer from nausea for long periods of time due to pregnancy or chemo treatments, for example. That must be so awful.

I met with my Orthopaedic Surgeon, the Cartilage Repair Specialist, 4 days after my surgery. My surgeon is a good guy and a total cartilage nerd. He LOVES cartilage. He loves to talk about cartilage, he loves to photograph cartilage (I now have an album of deteriorating cartilage pics), he loves to repair shitty cartilage - cartilage is his JAM. Given the fact that I have a rare cartilage condition, we are a match made in heaven and I am extremely lucky to have him as my surgeon.'s taken me a while to warm to my brilliant cartilage buddy. I have no particular reason, really. He listens. He explains things very well. He takes a lot of time with me. He emails back immediately if I send a question. He has good bedside manner. He's a likeable guy. But...he finds cartilage sooo enthralling that he smiles the whole time whilst discussing it- even when delivering bad news. It irked me. I felt like he saw me as a surgical challenge and was actually excited about my shitty knees (the dramatic side of me pictured a villain from a Disney movie rubbing his hands together, "Yes! This deteriorating cartilage is mine. All MINE!") I yearned for a bit of sympathy - maybe a frown -  to accompany, "Your knees are worse than expected." 

Luckily, we turned a corner on surgery #8. As I sat in his examination room, 4 days after surgery, listening to him describe the details of the next surgery - the cartilage implantation (smiling!), I felt that horrible familiar feeling of excess salivation and stomach roll. I quickly pushed my surgeon to the side and puked in the sink directly behind him. In that moment, something wonderful happened - he stopped smiling. I mean, he didn't hold my hair back or soothe me with a rendition of Frozen's, "Let it go!" But I felt like he saw me as a person who...well...puked. 

Although my Surgeon opted to exit the room for pukefest '17, upon his return, instead of continuing with the discussion of the next exciting surgery (happy face!), he commented, "You really are struggling with nausea. That's awful. We will try and solve that issue for you for the next surgery." EMPATHY! Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. I am more than just a challenging case, you know. There is a nauseated person attached to these scarred up knees! So now I feel like we can work together on this. It was a "me" issue and now I am over it. Yes. Let it go, indeed. 

I've been back on the island now for about 10 days and recovery is going well - there's always good days and bad days, but overall, it's been positive. A huge part of the success is the presence of my Mom. It's so nice having her company, as I find quiet alone time difficult, my head spinning with worries about my job and the upcoming challenges that the next surgery brings. I have this terrible habit of telling myself that I am not healing fast enough (I know. Ridiculous), and both Mom and Evan have been so supportive and reassuring that I am doing great. Mom has also been feeding, watering, and cheering me on during my physio exercises. Although she leaves the island on Wednesday, I still have a week to work on my strength and endurance so that I can return to work in the best shape possible. 

In all the flurry of post surgery activity, something terrible happened in our house. We forgot Dundee's Birthday. It completely slipped our minds. Oops. I awoke on Thursday to a Facebook memory of Dundee's birthday a year ago. Damn. I quickly looked at the date and realized that we had missed his birthday by a week! Luckily, Dundee hasn't had access to a calendar and as far as we know, did not suspect a thing. So we celebrated Dundee's 7th birthday on Friday with birthday hats, friends, and lots of pats. Have you ever seen such a big puppy smile? 

Cheers Friends!

One happy pooch!

Another Penn Medicine garment bag. Luckily they've started a punch card for me. One more surgery and I get a free shirt!

But how awesome is that pedicure? Perfection.

During my appointments Evan plays. With everything. He even froze his arm with anesthetic spray.

Oh good! Ev caught the post barf on camera! Ahh..the memories.

Just organizing my cartilage photo album (these are my intra-operative surgery photos). Someday I can show my awesome cartilage just how far it has come! ;)

Dundee and I do physio together every morning!

Dundee hugging his new birthday toy - exhausted from his party!